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Getting ATI/Crossfire is a mistake?

By Fred G ยท 19 replies
Jan 20, 2007
  1. I'm looking for a good video card for my new Intel E6600 processor machine and i almost decided upon getting 2 ATI cards and go crossfire until i found out some disturbing things about them and the fact that nvidia/sli is just betterr in many ways so now i'm having second thougths. I was considering the following configuration: Asus P5w Deluxe board with 2 ATI Radeon x1950 pro cards or getting 1 ATI Radeon x1950xtx card now and getting 1 x1950 crossfire edition a few months down the road for crossfire mode. This is because i wont have the cash to buy both of them at one time, these cards are pretty expensive.

    I dont know anyone who has an ATI card/cards, all my friends have nvidia/sli, so i have no one to talk to about its pros and cons. Almost all ATI cards, except for the x1950 pro, have that master/dongle setup which most people find annoying.I'm not familiar with how exactly that works and why is it considered bad. What interests me the most is how does that affect performance does it make 2 cards work better or worse? I've also heard that there are some games that are not supoported by ATI cards and some kind of problem/diffuculty with drivers. Also the word is that is nvidia's software/setup is easier to use.

    I dont know how true all this stuff is, i've read some great reviews for x1950 pro and x1950xtx and people who bought these cards in online stores also rated them highly. I need someone to put my mind at ease about crossfire or tell that its crap and why is it crappy and i should go with nvidia/sli instead.
  2. Liquidlen

    Liquidlen TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,094

    I havr found over the years that one of the best ways to decide about different technologies (especially new tech ) is to go to the Forums that specialize in any particular item.
    Try ATI and go to their Forums for users. You can read along and see what kind of issues are popping up. This will help you to decide whether or not you can deal with these problems, because remember ALL technology have some issue or another.
  3. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    It's all NVIDIA marketing hype. Crossfire is in no way superior nor inferior to SLI.

    You can use Crossfire without a dongle and without master/slave card configuration JUST like SLI, but only on certain chipset motherboards. SLI is the same way, but limited to NVIDIA chipsets.. period. At least with Crossfire you can also choose Intel i955/i975 chipsets as well as ATI chipsets.

    In the end though, both SLI and Crossfire is really limited to profile support. Newer ATI drivers will allow you different default modes for games without profiles, but the best performance is gained with supported/profiled games. SLI is the exact same way- where only profiled games see the biggest gains.

    In all actuality though, SLI & Crossfire isn't for everyone. If you're simply looking to boost framerate and performance, it's not for you. Instead, Crossfire AND SLI are better suited not for raw framerate performance, but the ability to greatly boost visual quality and IQ through the use of insane resolutions and higher degrees of antialiasing. In this way, you can still muster playable framerates (35-45 fps) in more taxing games yet have absolutely gorgeous, clean, smooth IQ.

    Also, it shouldn't go without saying that unless you are looking at the 8800 series cards, your IQ still will not be good as far as texture filtering. Shimmering and other artifacts exist in all prior NV cards. The 8800 is the first NV card to address texture filtering shimmer/ugliness by providing non-angle dependent anisotropic filtering. All the ATI cards have had this for a while with their HQ Anisotropic setting. The 8800 is the first card with this feature and some would argue is even cleaner for texture shimmering than ATI's cards in their HQ mode. NV had the opposite for years and they fought back by totally addressing this (mostly unrecognized) problem... and did so admirably.

    If you're more into getting super high framerates for twitch/online shooter games, SLI/Crossfire isn't the right approach to this. Most twitch/uber gamers wanting raw framerates run in single card mode for this. Dual-card configurations, while yielding more performance on the high-end, just aren't designed for this as textures, game assets and the like have to be duplicated/doubled to both cards. This overhead is only consumed if you then cause enough visual detail (resolution, anti-aliasing, shaders "maxed" kind of thing) to then make-up for it on the rendering phase. If you're looking for the best framerate at 1280x1024, no AA... single card is the way to go. If you're looking for the best framerate at 1920x1200, 6x-10x AA, maxed anisotropic filtering for an LCD with vsync and smoothness, SLI or Crossfire is your answer.
  4. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373


    Id save the cash and just go for a 8800GTS, it offers mucho performance and is well below the cost of 2 1950XT's also it is directx 10 compatable, being only 1 of 2 card that currantly support it. It wouldnt pay to buy the 1950xt's if your going to have to upgrade to a DX10 card in a year anyways.
  5. Fred G

    Fred G TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 86

    Thanks for the helpful suggestions guys. I will definately try the ATI forums and see what is being said about the cards and issues they are having.

    I think crossfire/sli is for me, i want the as best of a gaming performance in high resolutions as i can get with the card i'll have, i think 2 cards are better than one in this case. I definately want AA and i'll be getting a new monitor to go with the new pc, though i havent decided if i need LCD or CRT. As for crossfiring without dongle what motherboards will this work on? Will it work on Asus P5W deluxe or an Intel i975x? And will it work for x1950xtx so i wont have to get ax1950 crossfire edition?

    In regards to the geforce 8800 and DX10 i'm wary of getting one of them since these are the first 2 DX10 supporting cards, i dont know if they can be trusted to get it right so early on. Besides DX10 wont take off for another couple of years or so: video game makers wont be making DX10 games if they wont be able to sell them. By then the prices for these cards will come down considerably so i dont mind spending some cash on a DX9 card for now if it will last me a couple of years.
  6. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    In theory, this should work fine with two X1950's without a dongle on i975x. ATI only "supports" this on their own Xpress chipsets though, but unlike NVidia, they don't lock you out in their drivers.

    Speaking of which, as you're on an i975x motherboard, you cannot go SLI anyways. This is locked-out by the drivers for NForce chipset motherboards *only*. While there are some hacked drivers floating around on the 'net that bypass this NVidia lockout, I dont think there are any (could be mistaken- haven looked recently) for the 8800 series.

    I agree 100% with you here. Nobody should be getting an 8800 with the intention of it being a DX10 card. It simply hasn't been put through the rigors or measured in this way. It's safer to simply assume what IS known- that it's the absolute best performing DX9.0-series card and *may* be okay for some DX10 games under Vista.

    I think I may agree with the previous poster though and say just go with a single card/8800 solution right now. While you will not have SLI (at least supportable or without hacked drivers), you'll have near 2xSLI performance and single-card/reduced overhead to boot. I should also say I'm speechless with the IQ on the 8800- NV really addressed all my IQ beefs with this card which has made me mainly buy high-end ATI cards for a while. No more shimmer and artifacting textures!
  7. Fred G

    Fred G TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 86

    I see, so you are saying that getting a single 8800 GTS or GTX card is better than 2 x1950xtx perfrmance wise? I know that SLI wont work on i975x motherboard, thats not what they are designed for, i'm only considering one of them for a possible crossfire setup. But if you'll tell me that 8800 beats 2 ati cards, then i'll have to consider a different motherboard.

    EDIT: Another thing i forgot to add, i've been reading some articles on the next generation of ATI, the so called x2000 series, those cards are supoposed to be awesome and will be as good as nvidia's 8800 cards or better. Is there any truth to that or its also a case of marketing hype, this time from ATI? But if there some truth to this may be getting a ATI suported board and card now is not such a bad idea, later i'll be able to upgrade to one of those new ones.
  8. Sharkfood

    Sharkfood TS Guru Posts: 1,019

    In some things yes, in other's no. Overall, I'd call it a wash.

    As you can see, at the resolutions and modes you'll be wanting to play in, it's pretty darn close.. but with a lot less power consumption, profile bother or the like.

    For things that X1950 Crossfire beats a single 8800 GTX, it's usually by 5-12% margin... not really enough (IMO) to strap two cards together and pull 30-35A of power for.

    On the next-gen Radeon's- well, I think it's safe to say ATI will "one up" NV as this is the pattern of the IHV that releases a card after their main competitor. How much they will one-up is still the question, and how much all of this will apply to DX10 is yet another question.

    I prefer to wait for review samples before making any kinds of assertions about a product line. ATI generally "paper launches" their cards first, then throws out review samples. We haven't gotten the "paper launch" yet, but it's anyone's guess if they will change their model for the unchallenged 8800.
  9. Fred G

    Fred G TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 86

    Wow, thats impressive! Just one 8800 can rival 2 x1950xtx cards, thats pretty good. I was also impressed with the performance of 2 7950 GT in SLI mode.

    And you are definately right about the the next gen ati card, i cant be buying stuff on the basis of what of rumors they put out.

    I think you talked me into it, I'll get a 8800 GTS. I also need to get another motherboard then. But i need something that will have room for 2 of them, i'll wait a bit longer and get a second one when prices come down somewhat to get the ultimate gaming experience. Whats a good motherboard for this card? I know asus put out some nforce 590i, 650i and 680i, and so did eVGA and BFG, but i dont know how good are those 2, i heard there were some bios issues and they had to make a patch for it, i dont know if it fixed the problem. Asus has the name recognition and their boards are always high quality, so what do yiou think?

    By the way, who do you recomend i get the 8800 from? which card maker?
  10. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373


    Its a toss up, all cards pretty much perfom withing 2 FPS of one another on any given day. Since card makers are still using the reference design there is nothing that seperates them as far as cooling goes. XFX has a factory overclocked line of cards called the XXX edition, to my knowledge is the only card manufacturer to overclock the 8800's

    However, make sure your case has good circulation as the 8800's run a bit on the hot side. These cards are definatley not made for a case with 2 80mm fans.

    So to answer your question, any of the top 5 makers are worth a shot ( Asus, BFG, XFX, EVGA, OCZ ) I prefer XFX, they seem to have a great product and their tech support is awesome.

    But if you go with any of the top 5 I am sure you wont be dissapointed...
  11. darel001

    darel001 TS Rookie Posts: 40

    I dont know much about the crossfire or nvidias competition in the same level, but i do know that many times its personal .People have their personal preferences between ATI and NVIDIA, just like AMD and Intel. They are both competing for your business so they will try to beat the other guy by constantly making a similar component with a plus. ITS simple economics( i think). I personally have ATI so i side with it, but i bet u that if i had an Nvidia, i would side with NVIdia.

    Ive seen people in magazines who have crossfire and they seem happy, they know a lot about graphics stuff, so if they have it , t probably means its not bad. But then again there is people who prefer Nvidia.
  12. Fred G

    Fred G TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 86

    Thanks for the tip, though i didnt know that OCZ makes graphics cards. You dont happen to of a good nforce motherboard to go with that card?
  13. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    I'm almost certain OCZ doesn't make video cards, they're a memory manufacturor.
  14. Fred G

    Fred G TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 86

    Thats what i thought too. May be a JimShady meant to say something else, i've certainly never seen one by OCZ.
  15. JimShady23

    JimShady23 TS Maniac Posts: 373


    OCZ DOES make video cards, they stopped several years ago and dedicated themself to memory, but they jumped back in the graphics game a few months ago with the launch of the 8800 Series, however upon checking into it further I just noticed they only offer the GTX, no GTS as of right now.

    Their old stuff, was not very commonly known, although it was great qaulity stuff.

    The benefit to OCZ so I have heard is incorperating their own awesome memory to the cards. And the line of cards, well card lol, gets good reviews.

    I am sure they are just dabbling in a bit to see how their product will sell before they create a whole new offering of cards. But im sure with OCZ's well known name for quality they will have no problem producing sales.


    But like I said before its a horse a peice in choosing a card manufacturer....All perform about the same, cool the same and most carry a lifetime warranty.
  16. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    I see now; originally I went to their website and it had nothing listed for video cards, which is where I came up with the assumption that they didn't make cards. I didn't hear anything from elsewhere, and I usually pick up at least 1 pc magazine per month.
  17. beef_jerky4104

    beef_jerky4104 Banned Posts: 822

    In My opionon nVIDIAs SLi is far better than ATIs Crossfire. Because of nVIDIAs awesome drivers service and because more people have them over ATI.
  18. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,431   +32

    Just because more people have it doesn't make it better. Talk about the topic only if u know what you are talking about. Both SLI and Crossfire are equally good. I run 2 X1900XTs in Crossfire and they can rip through any game with ease at 1280x1024 with all settings maxed out. I'm pretty sure they can pull it off at 1600x1200 too. But the NVIDIA Control Panel is a lot better though but that's not a major hassle.
  19. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,000   +15

    both companies are good and both have had their share of driver issues. ATI before and NVIDIA more recently. ATI tends to be more common in laptops and NVIDIA in desktops. Personally I'm partial to NVIDIA. There are some excellent ATI cards out there. So don't try to keep up with the never will.
  20. cfitzarl

    cfitzarl TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,975   +9

    I think that might change for more lower-mainstream laptops with the release of the GeForce 6100/6150, which will allow Vista to run. Since most mainstream laptops don't contain a dedicated gpu (usually and intel), I don't think ATI will be affected much.
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